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All Haitian 'orphans' taken by U.S. missionaries had parents

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — There is no orphan among the 33 children that a U.S. Baptist group tried to take from Haiti in a do-it-yourself rescue mission following a devastating earthquake, the Associated Press has determined.

In a visit Saturday to the rubble-riddled Citron slum where 13 of the children lived, parents who gave their children away confirmed that all the youngsters had living parents.

Their testimony echoed that of parents in the mountain town of Callabas, outside the capital of Port-au-Prince, who told the AP on Feb. 3 that desperation and blind faith led them to hand over 20 children to the religious Americans who promised them a better life.

Now the Citron parents worry they may never see their children again.

One mother who gave up all four of her children, including a 3-month-old, is locked in a trance-like state but sometimes erupts into fits of hysteria.

She and other parents said they relinquished their children to the U.S. missionaries because they were promised safekeeping across the border in a newly established orphanage in the Dominican Republic.

Their stories contradict the missionaries' still-jailed leader, Laura Silsby, who told the AP the day after her arrest that the children were either orphans or came from distant relatives.

Silsby, 40, and her assistant, Charisa Coulter, 24, remain jailed as the investigating judge interviews officials at the orphanages the two visited prior to the devastating Jan. 12 quake. They are set to appear in court again Tuesday. Eight other missionaries were released Wednesday and are back in the United States.

All Haitian 'orphans' taken by U.S. missionaries had parents 02/20/10 [Last modified: Saturday, February 20, 2010 10:36pm]
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